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My Awe-mazing Life

Do you never wonder about the immaterial things like, why you have a conscience? Why you think some things are right and others are wrong? All the knowledge you hold about the human body and at the cellular level and the intricate detail involved in development and sustaining the metabolic process, you don’t ever wonder if their is an intelligent mind behind that design?  When you see you children conceived, developed in utero and then born thru this amazing process, it doesn’t make you wonder about the mind behind such a design?

 These are comments that were sent to me recently in an email, they reflect questions that many atheists are asked every day. I don’t think I’ve ever done a post about this particular stuff so here it is. I’m going to break down the quote into each question and address each one individually.

Do you never wonder about the immaterial things like, why you have a conscience?

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Of course I do, who wouldn’t!? I just don’t feel the need to answer every question with ‘god did it’. I can’t explain the exact parts that make us have higher brain functions than other animals but I am confident that it is something like Aristotle described it “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

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We don’t know exactly how much ‘feeling’ other primates or other animals have. It has been shown that mice will stop pressing the button that gives them food if they find out it is causing another mouse pain. Sharing and apparent caring have been observed in gorillas. To deny that animals have morality is some sort of special pleading and denial that we aren’t completely unique in this world.

More immaterial concepts exist; love, hate, etc. These are usually brought up so I will address them beforehand. Some people claim that the skeptic can’t be sure of love because there isn’t evidence for it. There is evidence if the love is there. In the little looks and caresses you and your partner share. A kiss feels much different when the feelings aren’t there to motivate it. Hate is much the same, except for the kiss part. A lovely post I came across recently on Imgur.com recounts children’s answers to the question ‘What is love?’

I’ll link this video by Tim Minchin here and the most relevant lyrics below.

But the human body is a mystery!
Science just falls in a hole
When it tries to explain the the nature of the soul.
….
Life is full of mysteries, yeah,
But there are answers out there
And they won’t be found
By people sitting around
Looking serious
And saying isn’t life mysterious?
Let’s sit here and hope
….
Does the idea that there might be knowledge
Frighten you?
Does the idea that one afternoon
On Wiki-fucking-pedia might enlighten you
Frighten you?
Does the notion that there may not be a supernatural
So blow your hippy noodle
That you’d rather just stand in the fog
Of your inability to Google?
….
Isn’t this enough?
Just this world?
Just this beautiful, complex
Wonderfully unfathomable, natural world?
How does it so fail to hold our attention
That we have to diminish it with the invention
Of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?

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Accountability

It is nearing…

I know no one reads this except me. I’ve accepted that. Just as Dumbledore needed his pensieve, I need this blog.

I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.
-Albus Dumbledore

Eight years old is considered the “age of accountability” in the LDS church. I suppose that means I have to bring up my apostasy again. I don’t know if it will renew the fights that have been known to occur when I bring up the church but I hope it won’t.

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I haven’t ever said anything (that I know of) about the girls being taken to church. They have gone both to LDS services and different Christian churches with family members, though I think I could count the number of times on one hand. This seems to be a different issue though. Should I allow her to be baptized into a church that she knows nothing about? Is there even going to be any push-back from the other side? Will I have to fight for my stance? Hopefully all three of these answers are no.

I’ve been online and reading through the thought processes of other people who have gone through this. Some say to be the man that baptizes your kid while others say to take a stand and make the decision wait until it is fully understood by the child. While each side is going to work for some family I haven’t wavered from what I thought I would do before I read all the stories. I am completely unable to do the first as I have renounced my membership and faith in the LDS church, but that doesn’t have any affect on my thoughts.

The fact is that I won’t agree to Sariah, and Sophia in a few years, being baptized into the church at eight. I am steadfast in my position that they won’t be taken “into the fold” until they choose to associate with the church.

Since I’m bringing up the theism stuff again I think I will take this time to share a podcast that I’ve been listening to lately. Unequally Yoked is a show of a couple talking to each other about their beliefs and their journey to where their family is now. I know I haven’t been this open in my relationships and use this blog to get what I need out of my head.

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Naomi is LDS and Neal is an atheist. I enjoy their open and honest discussion and am actually envious of it. I haven’t listened to it yet but one of their children is coming up to eight years old and is the first to do so since Neal renounced his faith. I hope to hear their discussion on the topic but I don’t feel that it will change my position on the topic.

I have tried to stay away from religion since the fighting and distancing of family members, as part of that I don’t know where some people stand. I guess it will all come out soon. In reference to that, I’ve been reading about and listening to something called Street Epistemology, another post to follow at some point.

 

A Quick Message for Sariah

So, last night you told me about a boy in your class. I thought I had more time. Just kidding. David Tyson, I think was his name.

You told me about how he talks funny and messes with you. I had to explain that boys are just like that. When they like you they are usually too shy or embarrassed to say they like you, instead they pick on girls and kind of try to deny that they like her. It took some probing but I got you to admit that you liked him too. I am so proud that I could get you to talk about it.
I don’t know if you are still this way but you have always been shy/embarrassed when confronted with even the most basic things. In ballet you were always embarrassed to show off your dances but then on other days you’d just dance your heart out. You never wanted to be congratulated for doing something good and god forbid we put you in front of a crowd for anything. I love that about you because I am the same way.
It’s quite funny that this came up now, it’s only been a week or so since you and your mother found my old yearbooks and saw where I had drawn a heart around my elementary school crush, Brittany Wiseman. I will never forget her and I wonder if the same will happen between you and David Tyson (apparently there are two Davids so everyone calls them by their full name).
I can remember my feelings for Brittany and constantly wonder what if but I doubt very much that I would change anything if I could go back in time.
Don’t spend your time worrying about the past. Hind sight is 20/20, yadda yadda. The past is in the past, the future is unwritten, the present is just that, a present. Enjoy your life now.
As always, from your loving father.
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Sariah’s Christmas List

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Sariah’s list isn’t going to be as wordy as mine, in fact, I’m going to make it mostly pictures of the brands or items that I know she’d like and doesn’t have. Again, I must say that you needn’t buy anything but I know you are going to anyways so here’s some idea. All of the pictures are links to pages for the item (I hope I did them all correctly).

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Beados – We got Sariah a starter set of these for her birthday and she loved it. It is a set where you can place the beads down in a pattern and then spray them with water and they will set together into the picture. Very similar to the things we would make with the beads and then iron them to melt them together as kids, only less burnable things.Polly_Pocket_Pet_Park_img2_lg

Polly Pocket Wall Party – We have a lot of these on her wall and are only missing the Pet Park, Cafe’, and Juice Bar. We don’t have anything else Polly so a pool set or whatever in this same size would fit in nicely.

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You can never go wrong with My Little Pony. Sariah and Daddy love it.

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adventure sci

A gift that isn’t a toy that will be thrown to the side in favor of another. A gift membership to the Nashville Zoo or Adventure Science Center.

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Some art never goes amiss. Swirlz for painting and The Pottery Room for glazing pottery.

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A magazine subscription for kids. May just spark a love of reading.

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Gift Card for movies (Great Escape in Clarksville) or theater shows (Roxy in Clarksville, or something in Nashville)

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ABCMouse.com is a great website and Sariah had a blast playing with it for a short while.

A gift card for Amazon, Walmart, some food place, ice cream place, anything will be appreciated and enjoyed. Ok, so it got wordy but I can’t help it. Hope it gave you some ideas.

 

 

My Letter to Santa

It’s that time of year again already. I’m sure we’ve each either been asked or popped the question ourselves; What do you want for Christmas?

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This post will be both talking about Santa and my own letter for those in my family who want some idea of want to get me. In thinking about this post I thought I’d look up some references to letters to Santa, what I’ve found is cool. First and foremost, there are a lot of websites designed to send a letter to Santa and to ensure your child (or you even, I guess) gets a response from ole’ Saint Nick.

http://emailsanta.com/

http://www.saintnick.org/html/letters.html

http://northpole.com/Mailroom/default-before.asp

Sariah knows, I think, who Santa is and that he is associated with Christmas and giving. I don’t see her having lacked anything in her childhood from not believing that Santa was a literal being who gave gifts. The story is so ridiculous when we grow up that I actively worked to not have her believe it and keep some people from speaking as if he were more than simply a good character to know with attributes to emulate (charity, altruism, cheerful).

I have been accosted for taking this position but I couldn’t care less. I don’t think it favorable to teach your child to believe something you know to be false. I couldn’t think of a way to explain having taught her to believe the story and then her asking the unavoidable questions; How does he make it to every house in one night? Why do some kids get more toys than other kids? Why do some of the bad kids get toys and some of the good kids not?

I don’t want to make this post about the story of Santa but everything I do now brings up my skeptic mind and how I am adapting as a parent each and every day. I must say that I don’t feel any emotion either way to those parents who do teach their kids, or allow them to believe, that Santa is factual, nor do I have any feelings about my having believed in Santa. I do remember the night I found out Mama got the stuff out of the trunk of the Festiva though (duplex, bunk bed, hanger in her foot, retainer screw, it all jumbles together but it’s in there somewhere).

Just for fun, if you haven’t ever heard of it, check out the Krampus, the antithesis to Santa.

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The nicest website I found is one we probably don’t visit that often, the United States Postal Service. The USPS has this planned out very nicely. They accept all letters and even set up a way for volunteers to “adopt” a child and buy from their list. Their Santa section is appropriately filed under the category “Corporate Social Responsibility”. I know they can’t focus on every letter that passes through their hands but I like that they feel it is their social responsibility as a corporation in that position to take care of as many letters as they are able to.

https://about.usps.com/corporate-social-responsibility/letters-to-santa.htm#p=1

I wasn’t aware of the adoption process that the post office has but perhaps Crystal, Sariah, Sophia, and I will participate or even our lab at work could take a couple letters and contribute this season, it could be our “corporate social responsibility” too.

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Before I get into an actual list I want you all to know this is only being put together because I will not be left alone and allowed to say that I really, truly, don’t need anything for Christmas. I don’t say this to be humble or modest. I say this because it is true. I have a great life. My family and friends are the best anyone could ask for and material possessions pale in comparison to seeing each of you.

It may be futile to say this but Crystal, Sariah, and Sophia are set, spoiled really. You needn’t buy them anything either. Maybe I will get Sariah to make out a list and have a post for her too. Sophia could care less yet and Crystal can set up her own blog for her list, or maybe a guest post!

So, that said, this is my list and it by no means all-inclusive. I have done my part so when I ask you I will not accept the answer ‘nothing’.

dear santa style decorum

 

Gift Card (Amazon, Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, Fandango etc)

ThinkGeek Wishlist

Wireless Headphones, Keyboard, and/or Mouse

Any book from this website (I don’t have any of them and they’re signed copies)

Headlight (1997 Ford F-150)

Something from 23 and Me  or  DNA11 (really cool but expensive)

I am a dad, scientist, lab rat, atheist, brony so anything from those genres is welcome

I have been thinking lately about items that are nicer/collectible (not necessarily expensive though)

I still like the sun/moon/star things

Harry Potter and MLP are always a hit

a new tattoo is working in my brain

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